A pioneer of San Francisco’s speciality coffee scene since first opening in The Mission in 2005, Ritual Coffee Roasters’ reputation preceded it. I’d seen its coffee across the USA from Box Kite in New York to Go Get ‘Em Tiger in Los Angeles. More recently, I’d had Ritual’s coffee at Maverick Coffee in Phoenix. Through all that, I’d never been to any of its six San Francisco outlets, so it was a priority on my return two weeks ago to pay Ritual a visit. As luck would have it, I’d chosen my hotel well, just a short walk from Ritual’s Hayes Valley location, occupying one of a small collection of shipping containers known as Proxy.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that, operating out of a container, Ritual might be a limited, takeaway-focused operation, but far from it. With proper cups for drink-in customers (bench inside or multiple tables outside), there’s a coffee selection that would put many larger shops to shame: house-blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, three single-origins on pour-over and another on batch-brew.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Ritual Coffee Roasters has graced its current location on the east side of Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley since 2011. Occupying a refurbished shipping container which, along with Smitten Ice Cream, the Juice Shop and Del Popolo, a wood-fired pizza oven in a truck, it forms part of Proxy, a two-block project providing a flexible environment of food, art, culture and retail. There’s not much to Ritual itself, but it shares a cluster of seven or eight small red mesh tables in the open space between the various establishments.
The core of Ritual is a regular, open-faced shipping container, counter at the back and an extended sawtooth front, made mostly of glass. This, coupled with a massive window on the right-hand side, makes for a very bright interior. Since space is limited, Ritual has a strict one-way system, with doors at either end.
You enter on the left, next to the retail selection against the left-hand wall. There are retail bags dead-ahead next to the pour-over bar. To the right, in the centre of the counter, are the till and pastry selection. Finally, occupying the right-hand end of the counter, is the La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine and it three grinders, by which time you are by the second of the two doors, which, located behind you, is the exit. Collect your coffee, then you’re on your way, unless you really want to sit inside, in which case, there’s a single bench between two doors, following the window as it slopes left to right by about 30°.
I turned up first thing one Sunday morning, Therma Cup in hand, for my first coffee of the day. It was only after I ordered that I realised that Ritual has a small supply of cups for sit-in (or sit-out) customers, including carafes and cups, presented on a tray, for pour-over. Classy.
There are three single-origins on pour-over another on batch-brew, all of which change monthly. On espresso, the seasonal house-blend (Ship to Shore) and decaf (Los Gigantes, Colombia) are joined by a single-origin (Sweet Tooth, Munyinya, Burundi) which changes as and when the staff get through it.
I started with the Burundi in an 8oz cappuccino, the coffee and milk in perfect harmony, creating a smooth drink. Impressed, I stayed on to order the Burundi as an espresso, served in a classic cup, glass of sparkling water on side. On its own, it was a rich, sweet, well-balanced espresso with a touch of acidity, a perfect counterpoint to the cappuccino and an excellent start to my Sunday.
|432B OCTAVIA STREET • SAN FRANCISCO • CA 94102 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Ritual (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Bench; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||07:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th April 2019|
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